Your home is not only your sanctuary—it’s also likely your most valuable asset. Keeping your house in good condition year-round doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive and can help you avoid significant expenses down the road. Our home maintenance checklist will give you a good overview of all the tasks you should add to your calendar. It can also help you identify tasks you may have forgotten or not be aware of.
These essential tasks address your safety and comfort and should be done every three months.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors buttons to ensure they are still operational. Fresh batteries should be put in once a year.
- Do you have a fire extinguisher? Check the gauges to make sure it’s correctly pressurized and will work in an emergency. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, get one.
- Change the air filter in the heating/ac return to cut down on dust and allergens and improve the energy efficiency of your units.
- Test all of the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets to make sure they are working properly.
Maintaining the outside of your house is an ongoing responsibility. The first step in assessing what needs to be done is to walk around and check out the condition of your property. Keep in mind you don’t want to take on any major outdoor projects during a snowy winter or your area’s rainy season, but it’s good to have an ongoing sense of what’s coming up when the weather improves.
Nothing says “run-down” like a paint job that’s faded, cracked, or peeling. Quality paint helps protect your siding or stucco from the elements, insect intrusion, and dust. A good coat of paint can even prevent exterior wood from dry rot and costly repairs.
Gutters are designed to channel rainwater away from your roof, walls, and foundation. If they’re clogged, they can damage your exterior paint, contribute to roof leaks, even facilitate water getting inside your house. It’s good to clean your gutters twice a year, especially in the fall while your trees are shedding leaves and before your region’s rainy season. But you may have to do it more often if trees surround your roof.
If you live in an area where you get snow or ice storms, ice can accumulate along your roofline and damage your gutters. So be on the lookout for ice dams and remove them. If you’re uncomfortable being up on a ladder, this is an easy, inexpensive task for a handyman.
Notice any holes in your screens, or are you missing screens entirely? If you love fresh air, but don’t want to welcome in all kinds of flying insects, then you need to repair or purchase new screens. Most local hardware stores can help you fix holes or replace missing screens.
Any watermarks on your ceilings? Check the roof for missing shingles and make sure any flashing around skylights or exhaust vents are intact and not damaged. If you notice any problems, contact a local roofing contractor.
Decks and Wooden Fencing
These features can amp up the curb appeal of your home. After winter, inspect for dry rot, severely split wood, mold, or algae buildup. If necessary, replace or treat the wood in those areas. Then wash, sand, stain/varnish, and seal. It’s recommended you do this every two to three years.
Concrete Driveways and Patios
Your concrete areas should be cleaned and resealed about every five years. Remove stains like gasoline and grease as soon as possible. If your concrete is stained, try pressure washing or cleaning products made specifically for concrete.
If there are sizeable cracks, you can fill those in with caulk and sealer so water runoff doesn’t widen them. Before you resurface, remove any concrete that’s damaged. If the cracks are deep and extensive, hire a professional. If the cracks are small, caulk and sealers are available from your local hardware store.
Nothing spruces up a home like a well-manicured lawn and a thriving garden. In parts of the country dealing with drought, you can replace a lawn with artful rock gardens and succulents.
Pruning supports your trees’ growth and structure. Prune in late fall to early winter when the trees are dormant.
If you have a tree that isn’t doing well, have a licensed arborist come out and inspect it. If it’s sick or dying, remove it before it falls and damages property or hurts someone. If branches threaten any power lines, your local utility will be happy to come out and prune them for you. Early spring is the best time of year to fertilize your trees and shrubs. Young trees should be fertilized annually. Older, more established trees can be fertilized every two to three years.
Flower Beds and Shrubs
Mulch in mid to late spring to protect your plants’ root systems, add nutrients to the soil, and reduce erosion. If you live in a warmer climate, you may need to add mulch to help retain moisture. And in colder areas to help insulate your plants from snow and ice.
Where you live depends on when you should fertilize. If you live in frost-free areas, fertilize in late spring or early summer, with a second application in late Summer. In colder regions that feature fescue and bluegrass lawns, fertilize in October or November. Your local garden center can advise you. Be sure to water the lawn for a few days before applying the fertilizer to help with absorption.
Winter is the best time to take on interior chores because people spend most of their time indoors anyway.
Your water heater’s temperature and pressure (T&P) valve is a safety feature designed to keep your water heater from exploding in the case of extreme pressure buildup-up. You need to test it at least once a year to ensure that it will adequately expel water.
Make sure that the clothes dryer vent is appropriately venting to the outside. Clean the lint collector each time you use it. And clean the dryer ductwork at least once a year. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cost upwards of $35 million in damages.
Fix leaky plumbing promptly. Check under the sinks and along the base of bathtubs and showers. Make sure there’s no standing water in the basement. You don’t want to let water accumulate anywhere in your home. It’s an open invitation for black mold, dry rot, and termites. Also, check your water main and meter for leaks.
Are your showerheads or faucets clogged? Remove the showerheads and faucet aerators and soak them in white vinegar to dissolve and clean out any mineral sediment restricting flow.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Your furnace and A/C compressor, and coils should be professionally serviced and cleaned twice a year. The EPA recommends cleaning the air duct system only if:
- Mold testing has indicated there is mold growing inside the ducts.
- The insulation around the ducts is damp and moldy.
- Ducts are infested with vermin.
- There’s an excessive amount of dust or debris in the ducts
If your home is heated with steam heat, drain your boiler to clear out any sludge that’s collected before winter starts, and be sure to refill it before you use it.
A clean chimney prevents house fires and blockages that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends cleaning your chimney at least once a year. It’s also good to look for a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
Assess if the insulation is in place and in good shape. Make sure that attic fans are in good working order and there are no leaks in the ceiling.
Make sure the garage door automatic safety shut-off is working correctly. Check for signs of rats, bats, roaches, and termites, especially in the basement, attic, garage, and crawlspace. Rats spread disease and can eat through electrical wiring causing fires. According to Orkin, termite damage and repair cost U.S. residents an estimated $5 billion annually. If you see any signs of infestation, call in a professional exterminator.
Special Winter Maintenance for Colder Regions
Once the temperature starts to dip, there are specific tasks you need to perform to avoid costly repairs later on.
- Shut down your sprinkler system for the winter including the timer.
- Make sure your water main shut-off valve and any above-ground piping is insulated even if it’s in the garage.
- Drain any water from outside pipes.
- Clean and cover your pool.
- If your A/C unit is outside, cover it for the winter. Window units should be sealed inside and out to prevent cold drafts.
- Inspect your windows and doors frames for cracks and caulk if necessary.
- Make sure your snow blower is operational
Need Help Managing These Tasks?
It can be challenging to keep on top of everything that needs to be done. Many homeowners use apps like HomeRoutines, HouseHappy, and HomeZada to help them organize and schedule their maintenance. However you track your tasks, having a home maintenance checklist can be invaluable and keep you up-to-date on upkeep issues.
And don’t feel you have to take on these tasks yourself, either. Reputable companies, like Angi (formerly Angi’s List), provide affordable local pros rated through verified reviews. So, if you’re not into DIY, you’re sure to find a handyman you can trust to help you get the job done right.
This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial or tax advice. For more information about whether a reverse mortgage may be right for you, you should consult an independent financial advisor. For tax advice, please consult a tax professional.